Dr Mark’s Blog

Dr. Mark Porter is an NHS GP and award winning journalist, investigating and reporting on the latest developments in medicine. Mark is the medical correspondent at The Times, and columnist for Saga Magazine.

Opioids – 5 things everyone taking should know

Published courtesy of The Times where this article originally appeared in September 2019. Closing the stable door after the horse has bolted is an occupational hazard in medicine where the risks of an intervention may only become apparent many years later.  And the...

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New NICE guidance on HRT – key changes (2015)

NICE has released its long awaited guidance on the use of hormone replacement therapy in women (HRT) and it includes a few changes that are likely to see more women being offered it / considering it. I have summarised some key points

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An insider’s guide for treating colds and flu – courtesy of The Times 15.12.15

It has been a tough week for ibuprofen and paracetamol. An Australian court has ordered the manufacturers of Nurofen to withdraw a number of products because of misleading claims about efficacy. And, as reported in yesterday’s Times, researchers in New Zealand have just published a study suggesting that paracetamol doesn’t alleviate many of the symptoms of flu.

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Blood in your urine (haematuria)

Cancers of the kidney and bladder kill nearly as many people in the UK as breast cancer yet they have nothing like its profile, and the cardinal sign of trouble – blood in the urine – isn’t always taken as seriously as it should be.

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Testosterone replacement for men – my views

Testosterone deficiency, or low-T as it is popularly known in America, has long polarised medical opinion. Testosterone evangelists promote it as the panacea to middle-aged woes like poor sex drive, grumpiness and lack of energy, while at the other extreme sceptics regard supplementation as the unacceptable medicalisation of natural ageing. But who is right?

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Don’t forget your malaria tablets

Taken from The Times 10th December 2013 Forty-seven year old Jayne Rowley is the latest Briton to have died from malaria, and her demise last month should be a warning for anyone planning a trip to an exotic location; never underestimate the threat posed by malaria. Mr and Mrs Rowley decided not to bother with […]

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Cheap Viagra – generic versus branded drugs

Things are looking up this month (July 2013) for the hundreds of thousands of British men who depend on Viagra. The cost of the drug is set to plummet as manufacturer Pfizer’s patent expires and rival companies release cheaper generic versions offering the same benefits, but at a fraction of the price. In my experience […]

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What every man should know about cancer of the testicle

 My article from The Times published 30.7.2013 – the original can be found here (£) : http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/health/dr-mark-porter/article3828940.ece “What a load of balls” was my first thought on hearing the news that testicular cancer survival rates are “soaring” – the implicit suggestion being that we have cracked the problem thanks to breakthroughs like new drugs and awareness […]

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An insider’s guide to getting the most out of your GP surgery

From The Times Tuesday 18th June 2013 I am proud to be a GP but, along with many of my colleagues, my self-esteem has been somewhat dented over the last few months by the way we have been portrayed. Not only are GPs seemingly responsible for NHS crises ranging from teetering A&E services to burgeoning […]

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A quick guide to treating hay fever

  Who gets hay fever? Hay fever is now the most common long-term illness in Britain. It typically develops in childhood and is most troublesome in 15 – 25 year olds – one in 4 British teenagers now have the condition. The number of GP consultations for hayfever has quadrupled in the last 30 years. […]

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The right start? Supplements during pregnancy

Most parents’ idea of giving their child the best start naturally centres on post-natal issues like breastfeeding and a safe nurturing environment, but important though these are, other factors can influence their offspring’s long-term future long before they are born. Indeed, sometimes even before they are conceived. We have known for many years that parental […]

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Bed sharing and reducing the risk of cot death

From The Times 21.5.2013 “Should I sleep with my baby?” is a question that has polarized opinion since research revealed that just over half of all cot deaths occur when babies sleep with their parent(s). And the debate has been stoked today by new research revealing that the parental bed doesn’t just pose a threat […]

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Breast cancer pt 2 – protecting women at the highest risk.

New figures from Cancer Research UK show that the odds of a British woman developing breast cancer have risen by a fifth over the last twenty years, with around 50,000 new cases likely to be diagnosed this year. But while women today are more likely to develop the disease, their odds of surviving it have […]

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Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)? Possibly not ….

If you have the type of IBS that leaves you prone to diarrhoea, as opposed to constipation, then you may have been wrongly diagnosed….. As many as half a million people in the UK with stomach problems previously attributed to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), could actually have another cause for their symptoms that is likely […]

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Preventing breast cancer in high risk women using tamoxifen and related drugs

New research published in The Lancet – www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(13)60140-3/fulltext – that oestrogen blocking drugs like tamoxifen and raloxifene can prevent breast cancers if taken regularly – one breast cancer was prevented for every 42 women who took the drugs for at least 5 years. This adds to existing research currently being considered by NICE who is […]

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Overdoing it in the gym

Yesterday’s Inside Health -http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b019dl1b – item on very high intensity exercise prompted a number of people to question the evidence behind my advice for middle-aged and older people to limit the intensity of their work-outs to ensure their heart rate did not rise over 220 minus their age (ie 170 for a 50 year old, and […]

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The new NHS 111 service

From The Times 16.4.13, and since this was published I have received numerous emails and letters from Times readers berating their experiences when using 111.  Even accounting for reporting bias, their experiences suggest the service may be in more disarray than I thought.  Perhaps the most ridiculous complaint was that from a daughter of an elderly […]

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The Swansea measles outbreak and why it is so worrying

The measles outbreak in the Swansea area has highlighted just how quickly the disease can spread there have been just under 700 cases confirmed as I write, nearly a hundred of which have been diagnosed in the last week. And South Wales is unlikely to be the only part of the UK facing an epidemic […]

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